CONNECT is an independent non-profit organization servicing the San Diego region with offices in San Diego and Washington, D.C. CONNECT links high technology and life sciences entrepreneurs with the resources that they need for success: technology, money, markets, management, partners and support services. Current CEO is Duane J. Roth.[1] In July 2010, CONNECT's board promoted Camille Sobrian, former CONNECT COO, to President.[2]


Originally founded by the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego), CONNECT spun out of the university in 2005. CONNECT was founded in 1985 by Irwin M. Jacobs, co-founder and board member of Qualcomm Incorporated; Richard Atkinson, President Emeritus, University of California (and former Chancellor, UC San Diego); Lea Rudee, founding Dean, UC San Diego School of Engineering; Mary Lindenstein Walshok, Associate Vice Chancellor of Extended Studies and Public Programs at UC San Diego; Buzz Woolley, President of Girard Capital/Girard Foundation; David Hale, Chairman of Hale BioPharma Ventures LLC; Dan Pegg, former President & CEO of San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation; and Bob Weaver.[3]

In 1986 UC San Diego hired Bill Otterson, Chairman of Lexocorp to head CONNECT.[4] Over the following 13 years, Otterson and Walshok built CONNECT into an internationally renowned program that has now been modeled in almost 40 regions around the world including New York City,[5] the UK, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Australia.[6]


CONNECT offers almost 30 programs in the areas of research institution support, access to capital, entrepreneur learning, business creation and development, public policy and networking, awards & recognition. CONNECT's lead program is Springboard, which offers free hands-on mentoring by veterans for innovators at the innovation, technology transfer, commercialization, transition and international expansion stages. Springboard has been recognized as a model by the New York Times,[7] and Entrepreneur Magazine.[8]

Today the organization focuses on five initiatives including: representing the interests of innovators in Washington, D.C. to ensure that federal legislation fosters innovation including employing a federal policy advocate in D.C.,[9] and publication of research papers fostering new models through organizations such as the Kauffman Foundation;[10] expanding San Diego's academic and research community which numbers almost 50 research institutions; securing funding for a regional loan program to provide intellectual property protection and seed fund loans for research organizations; increasing access to capital for early stage companies, supporting the growth of newer technology clusters in San Diego including wireless health, sport innovation, cyber security and robotics, and outsourcing service providers.

Founder Credentials

In 2005 CONNECT was a co-founder of the Wireless Life Sciences Alliance,[11] in 2008 CONNECT founded CleanTECH San Diego,[12] and in 2009 founded San Diego Sport Innovators, now headed by Bill Walton.[13]

San Diego Sports Innovators was created in 2008 by Camille Sobrian and Marco Thompson by partnering with sponsor Dick Kintz from Shepard Mulin law firm. Sports industry veterans, Peter "PT" Townsend, Ludo Boinnard and Jim Stroesser were added as the founding boarding members. Other board members include: Dana Shertz, Michael Brower, Bob Rief, Tony Finn, Mark Schmid, John Sarkisian, Brian Enge, Dave Nash, John Wilson, Dave Down, Jeff Kearl, and Kevin Flanagan. Former NBA great, Bill Walton, was brought in as the Chairman in 2009.


The highest Award CONNECT gives entrepreneurs is The Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Award. This award is given to those CONNECT deems community leaders through influence in life science and technology based businesses in San Diego. These businesses are viewed by CONNECT as significant contributions to San Diego’s economy and quality of life, relying on the ‘Hall of Fame’ Entrepreneurs for their success. Those given the award include: Irwin Jacobs, co-founder, board member and former Chairman & CEO, Qualcomm Incorporated; Walter Zable, co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Cubic Corporation; Robert Beyster, founder and former Chairman & CEO of SAIC and Chairman of The Foundation for Enterprise Development; Ivor Royston, co-founder of Hybritech (San Diego's first biotech company) and Managing Member of Forward Ventures; Bill Rastetter, former President & CEO of IDEC Pharmaceuticals (merged with Biogen to become Biogen Idec, the third largest biotech in the world); and Neal Blue, Chairman & CEO of General Atomics (GA), Linden Blue, Vice Chairman of GA and Chairman of Spectrum Aeronautical,[14] and Peter Preuss.[15]


  1. "CONNECT Accelerating Innovation in San Diego". [1] Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  2. "CONNECT board promotes Camille Sobrian to President". [2] Retrieved 2010-08-04.
  3. "UC San Diego Extension A History of UCSD Extension". [3] Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  4. "UC San Diego Extension Innovation Timeline". [4] Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  5. "State of the City Address City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn", page 4. [5] Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  6. "Global CONNECT Members". [6] Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  7. "Helping New Technologies Grow Into Businesses, the San Diego Way". [7] Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  8. "A New Take on Incubators". [8] Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  9. "Connect to open D.C. office for lobbying". [9] Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  10. "From a Trickle to a Tidal Wave: New Kauffman Paper Outlines Potential Solution for Filling Drug Pipeline and Protecting U.S. Global Dominance in Biomedical Products". [10] Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  11. "Camille Sobrian". [11] Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  12. "Helping New Technologies Grow Into Businesses, the San Diego Way". [12] Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  13. "Connect tries hand at sports, entertainment". [13] Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  14. "Entrepreneur Hall of Fame". [14] Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  15. "Connect Inducts Software Pioneer Peter Preuss to Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame". [15] Retrieved 2010-07-07.
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